Cholelithiasis is a common disease worldwide. The majority of gallstones can occur when the bile is supersaturated with cholesterol. Dyslipidaemia, obesity, insulin resistance are associated with an increased risk for cholesterol gallstone formation as well as with vascular risk. Statins and ezetimibe are used to treat dyslipidaemia and appear to have some effect on bile composition and cholesterol gallstone formation. Statin (e.g. pravastatin, simvastatin, fluvastatin and lovastatin) monotherapy or combined with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) have shown reductions in bile cholesterol saturation, preventing gallstone formation and even dissolving pre-existing stones. However, this effect was not consistently reported in all studies. Statin use has also been associated with a reduced risk for cholecystectomy in 2 large epidemiological studies. Ezetimibe was shown to have a beneficial action against cholelithiasis in animal studies but data in humans – although promising – are very limited. The effect of these drugs on gallstone disease warrants further investigation in large human trials. We also consider the links between cholelithiasis, vascular risk and the use of lipid lowering drugs.
Keywords: Gallstone, cholesterol, bile, statin, ezetimibe, fibrate, ursodeoxycholic acid, cholelithiasis, lipase, phospholipids
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